Archives for December 2012

GIVEAWAY!! Blog Tour – Spotlight: Dianna’s Way by John Catenacci with an interview

Dianna’s Way
written by John Catenacci          
published by Spirit Dog Talking Publications

find it here: Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

About the book: Dianna is a young woman in her late 20’s when she meets John, a man in his late 40’s. They fall in love and marry. A central feature of their life plan is to have one child to fulfill her fervent lifelong dream of being a mother.

Not to be.

Not long into their marriage, Dianna discovers she has an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Hand in hand, they begin a 17 year spiritual journey into the nature of love and healing. Along the way, she discovers and fulfills her life purpose and, in the process, takes John by the hand, gently helping him to reveal, then fulfill, his own.

In the beginning, John, being much older, thought he would be her teacher but gradually discovers in the most important dimensions of life quite the opposite is true. With Dianna’s guidance, he ultimately discovers we are all teachers, we are all students and we are all one.

Theirs is a story of courage, determination and a lightness of being, as they descend into the deepest valleys of crushing disappointment, pain and suffering only to rise again to ever higher peaks of appreciation, gratitude and love. Throughout it all, their journey is laced with light and laughter.Even today, after her passing, they continue their relationship, piercing the Illusion that veils this reality, exploring its limits while continuing a spiritual journey without end. 

Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome John Catenacci, author of Dianna’s Way, to the blog today. Mr. Catenacci is touring the blogosphere with Tribute Books. He has answered some questions for all of you.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

At some point in our life together, I began to notice Dianna was living her life in a genuinely powerful, almost mysterious (to me) way and suggested to her that I write her story. She was as delighted as any child running down the stairs on Christmas morning. But, as her health deteriorated, I became focused on care giving and put the writing aside. After she died, I was engulfed in grief and, for a couple of years, I just couldn’t climb out of it. One day, I happened upon a book by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, which I credit with guiding me back into the game.


The book is in five parts. The first four recount our life together with the fifth devoted to my personal spiritual journey of coming to terms with her leaving, my long view of who she was and what I learned from her. The first four parts flowed like water once I began to write but I struggled mightily with the last part. Yet it is this last part that weaves together the whole of her life, her message, in a way very satisfying to me.


Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

Well, originally the cover was going to be centered on the photo of Dianna that is now on the back cover. I love this photo of her – it is quintessential Dianna in an image.

However, my editor, Marly Cornell, convinced me this was going to be an ineffective cover and, after accidentally seeing the photo of Dianna and me from the rear taken by a dear friend/professional photographer, Giovanni Sanitate, she instantly said, “This is the one. Use this one.” Well, it has taken most of my life but I have finally learned to listen and follow advice when the advice comes from someone I respect. So, now, everyone gets to see my bald head instead of Dianna. More mystery, more intriguing, Marly said. Probably because anyone looking at it would wonder what this young woman is doing with this old man.


Anyway, unwilling to let it go completely, I pushed Dianna’s photo to the back cover because I wanted it to be seen and seen in color.


What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

Everyone is unique. No one could have written this book but me and no one else has existed nor ever will exist who is like Dianna. So her story and how I have written it is like no other book anyone has ever read. Of course, this does not make it a good book but simply a unique one. I have read quite a few memoirs, many involving illness, care giving – and some of them were really good. What I think makes this book special is what made Dianna special, what made our relationship special – so much laughter, optimism, ways of constantly making lemonade when we needed it, and, finally, the deeply spiritual orientation to the book’s message – good or bad, there is nothing fluffy about where Dianna goes in her life nor in the way I have chosen to examine her life…and the very meaning of life itself.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to write in sentence fragments and the entire book is a sort of a mosaic – there are chapters that are conventionally chronological because they had to be but other parts of the book are like bursts of light shining on an amazing woman so the reader can enjoy her in the way I – and all who knew her – enjoyed and were inspired by her.  I am so happy with how the entire tapestry came together as a whole. I think Dianna is, too.

Of course, I could go into grammar and punctuation, which I thought I knew. And my love of ellipses and my aversion to the word “that” and my unconscious tendency to start sentences with “So.”


 So, my early readers and editor ripped me to pieces on those “quirks.”


Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

In my reality, nothing in life is random — or accidental. When I was about to write this response, I happened to look out the window and saw three – three – hummingbirds dancing around a honeysuckle. I have never seen this before. It was like Dianna saying “talk about the hummingbird chapter.”


While I was writing the book, it occurred to me to use a hummingbird as one metaphor for how Dianna lived her life – flitting from person to person, embracing their love wholeheartedly while impregnating each one with a simple grace, unflagging humor, and ineffable love in return, all in one magical spontaneous exchange.


The look of triumph on her face, her excitement and joy, when the first hummingbird showed up in our yard was unforgettable. She had worked so hard for several years, planting for them, and finally there it was, this little Ruby Throated blur. In that moment I saw, once again, her determination, patience, faith, appreciation and gratitude all in one tiny vignette during one day of our lives.


Do you plan any subsequent books?

An already almost fully formed book is in my mind now. Better writers than I have said, don’t talk about a book idea or the energy for writing it will bleed away, leaving it stillborn.


Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo and The Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware because I am old enough now where I should pay attention to these things — probably before tomorrow — and A Broken Sausage Grinder by Hank Thomas, a friend of mine and The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele, a relative and friend of mine. I often read several books at a time, switching back and forth depending on my mood. All are interesting in different ways and for different reasons.

There is so very much talent in the world isn’t there?

About the author: After spending his youth doing cement construction work while getting his education, John Catenacci earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He went on to work on the Apollo 11 Project as a member of the USAF in California, then  as an engineer for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, MI, doing both process research as well as designing and building chemical plants.

Mid-career he became interested in group dynamics, leading to another 20-year career in team building that took him across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Saudi Arabia.

With a sprinkling of published short stories and articles in small magazines along the way, his abiding passion has always been writing, something now coming to fruition in this, his first book. 

Find Mr. Catenacci here: web, Facebook, Goodreads

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win an ebook copy of Dianna’s Way


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Being Anti-Social by Leigh K. Cunningham

Being Anti-Social 
written by Leigh K. Cunningham          
published by Leigh K. Cunningham 

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads


Why did I pick this book: 
 I was asked by the author to review her book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: This book was okay. It was not a book that I had to read every free chance I had…in fact, I had a hard time finishing it.

This book took too long to get through. The pace was slow and there were way too many Oscar Wilde quotes for my taste. I would have like the quotes better if they were used as a title or introduction to each chapter. Then, the quote would be there for what was going on in the scene but also the reader could skip it if they wanted to do so. 

I could not connect with the main character, Mace. I just did not like her at all. I thought she was unhappy, cynical, and miserable to be around. I understand the title of the book…Mace is very anti-social. I could not figure out how she has friends at all given her attitude and disposition. Mace’s friends – Kimba, Amber, Sophie, and Erin – were all so different from one another. It is kind of neat that they all would be friends because of how different they all are. But they worked well together. I could see them all being friends and going through life together. Rudy was likeable despite his beginning with Mace.

Being Anti-Social is well-written and it could be a good story. Some parts were very moving and emotional. Many of these moments came at the end of the book. But I would not categorize this book as chick lit. It just did not have the lighthearted, feel good moments that I look for in chick lit. Maybe if I had approached it from a different expectation, I may have enjoyed it more. But thinking it was chick lit, I was disappointed. 

Would I recommend it: I would not.


Will I read it again: I will not read this book again. 


About the book – from Goodreads: 
Mace Evans is single at thirty-eight. When her much unloved older sister, Shannon, declares that Mace is anti-social, she embarks on a journey to understand her condition; whether she was born that way or if it is the accumulation of thirty-eight years of unfortunate encounters with other humans and dogs.

For reasons unbeknown to Mace, she has an affair with a work colleague, which brings an unexpected end to her perfect marriage. And as if the self-imposed torture and regret is not enough, Mace endures ongoing judgment from her older sister and mother, which further exacerbates already tenuous relationships.

With support from her four best friends, merlot and pizza, and with guidance from her life coach and mentor, Oscar Wilde, Mace recovers to a degree, but in her quest to understand her anti-social ways, she finds herself wondering about the quality of the fabric that keeps her network of friends intact.

When Mace’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Mace searches for common ground on which to connect before it is too late.

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings (The Duck and the Doe: Volume 1) by Danielle Peterson

Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings (The Duck and the Doe: Volume 1)
written by Danielle Peterson          
published by Danielle Peterson

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads


Why did I pick this book: 
 I was asked by the author to review her book. I accepted her  request. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: This book was okay. It wasn’t a book that I had to read every free chance I had. It was decent and relatively quick for a short story. 

I found the concept/underlying story to be quite interesting. It was different to some extent from other books I have read in the paranormal genre. The narrator/main character, Remi, was rather selfish. He truly loves his “Ma Bichette” but that love clouds his judgment and leads them to this immortal life. Remi doesn’t see her race, only the fact  that he loves her and wishes that times were different so that he could marry her. He rambles quite a bit and jumps around a little too much for me. (I know he warned the readers of this.) What I did find well-done was the change in his vernacular depending on what decade/century Remi was talking about during his storytelling. At times, he spoke very educated and proper. Then, while speaking in the present day, Remi uses the acronym “GTFO” to get his point across to today’s readers.

Sadly, there were quite a few mistakes – typos, grammar, punctuation – throughout this short story. I found these mistakes rather distracting at times. But, as I stated, this book has a different angle and has some great potential. 

Would I recommend it: If you want something different that is a rather fast read, then, yes, I would recommend this book. 


Will I read it again: I will not. 


About the book – from Goodreads: 
The Duck And The Doe is the tale of two immortal beings whose eternal love has soured a bit in the last two centuries. Written as memoir by the “hero,” this novella is a musing on both what love is and how much America has changed since the early 19th century. The first volume deals with both the supernatural and the racism of the old American south. Told with humor and passion (and the occasional rant) the story of these strong characters, including a wealthy young lawyer and a clever courtsean, will change your idea of what “love forever” really means.

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Review: Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer

Unmasking_Maya_final_cover_300dpi_7inUnmasking Maya
written by Libby Mercer
published by Libby Mercer

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazon, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the author to review her book. I happily accepted her request. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.) 

Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book. I thought it was a sweet romance and a quick read. I read Unmasking Maya every free chance I had and I couldn’t wait to see how it ended.

I really like the fashion aspect in Ms. Mercer’s books. That is something new for me and I find it interesting. Maya’s art was described very well…to the point that I could see the textiles and the colors. Maya was a great character. I kept wondering about her mysterious past that she was desperately trying to hide. That was a good little twist in the story.

The unlikely romance was something that I was rooting for from the beginning. Derek also has a past that isn’t talked about much. How it comes about and almost destroys the relationship was a great catch-your-breath moment that broke my heart a little bit.

I felt for the characters. I wanted them to see and know their real selves. I was invested from the beginning…and that is a mark of a good read in my opinion.

everyfree4Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book. It is a great chick lit read.

Will I read it again: I probably will not but I will read more by Libby Mercer.

I also read Ms. Mercer’s other book, Fashioning a Romance, and really enjoyed it. (See my review here.)

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About the book – from Goodreads: Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She’s offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?

Not so much.

She can’t stand Derek Whitley – wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.

As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?

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GIVEAWAY!! Book Blast: A Hard Act to Follow by Henry Bushkin


A Hard Act to Follow 
written by Henry Bushkin
published by

find it here: http://johnnycarsonbook.com/, Goodreads

About the book: A Hard Act to Follow is a non-fiction literary account of Henry Bushkin’s tenure as Johnny Carson’s lawyer, business partner, and friend.  The book gives genuine insight into the ‘Carson behind Johnny’ with candid personal vignettes about the two, during the rollicking years when Johnny was the undisputed king of television.  This is an engaging, eye-opening, anecdote-packed story about a young lawyer and his client, one of the biggest celebrities in the country.  This funny, unfiltered account gives readers a look at the Johnny Carson that none but a select few really knew.

A Hard Act to Follow by Henry Bushkin provides a stirring account into Johnny Carson’s world—as told by Carson’s closest confidant.

The New Yorker article by Kenneth Tynan from 1978, included the following question and answer:
Tynan: When you’re at home, whom do you entertain?
Carson: My lawyer, Henry Bushkin, who’s probably my best friend.

Praise for A Hard Act to Follow


“I loved the book.” ~Wayne Newton

“Henry was Johnny’s closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book.” ~Bob Trapenberg

“The book is full of tough love, humor, cultural history, sadness, humor, love, loss, well I guess I am saying it is full of life.” ~Rupert Garcia

” Henry’s portrayal of Johnny was spot on. I highly recommend this book which is the closest the reader will ever get to know the real Carson.” ~ Ed Weinberger, former Tonight Show writer and Producer for Carson Productions

“A beautifully easy read that pulls you in to an effortless journey through Johnny Carson’s effortful life. The glamour  the fellow celebrities behind the curtain, the loyalties, and the betrayals. It certainly provides new insight on decisions and the lives that are behind the scenes.” ~Kathy Davis, Kathy Takes on Books

“”I have read this book and it is FAB! If you love reading about celebrities, this is awesome. It is also a great memoir as well. I am a huge memoir fan so this one was a real treat and one of the best I have read in this genre in a long time” ~Mary,  Bookhounds Blog

“Bushkin’s easy, unpretentious style allows the reader to be a fly on the wall as this inside story plays out in the rarified air on which Johnny thrived. “A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW” is a must read whether you grew up on Johnny or never heard of him. And then there are the supporting characters — from the Rat Pack to Johnny’s Ice Queen mother ranging around the pages disturbing the peace. I read it straight through in 90 minutes and was left wanting more.”  ~Sandy Ignon, Screenwriter (RANSOM).

“The tales are epic in nature and stretch from the first page to the last. “A Hard Act to Follow” is an honest appraisal of Carson and shows his dark side. In this, Bushkin strikes the right blend of salacious detail with an appropriate dose of discretion. Sure, you’ll learn more detail about Carson’s marriages– in a tasteful way.  Bushkin will leave you wanting more. Great books will do that.” ~Barry Mordis, Senior VP at Merryl-Lynch

“No one would describe Johnny as easy going-there was an edge to him that Bushkin always managed to soften. He continues to do that in this book. There was that challenging side of Johnny which is also captured in the book. Henry was Johnny’s closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book. All in all a great book to read.” ~Bob Trapenberg, Johnny’s former Tennis Pro.


About the author: 

Henry Bushkin is an experienced lawyer who practices in both California and New York. He currently lives in Los Angeles where his children also reside.

Find Mr. Bushkin here: TwitterWebsite 






Blog Tour Now Through January 11th
Tour Schedule




And now for the Book Blast Giveaway!! Enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. (Ends December 26, 2012)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

            Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Blog Tour: The Fart That Saved Christmas by Jacob Morningside

The Fart That Saved Christmas
written by Jacob Morningside         

find it here: iBooks


Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Tribute Books(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)


Did I enjoy this book: This book was cute. It is an adult picture book. The story is funny and the illustrations are comical. It is an extremely fast read that will make you smile. 

Would I recommend it: I would if you want a quick laugh.


Will I read it again: I may for a good chuckle at Christmas.


About the book: 
The behind the scenes story of what really happened “The Night Before Christmas.”

It’s Christmas Eve. The reindeer go on strike with a list of demands for Santa, the elves and Mrs. Claus. Santa gets “loaded” and threatens to cancel Christmas, fire the deer and divorce Mrs. Claus. But, just when all seems lost, Christmas is saved by a timely fart.

About the author: Born into a body inhabited by multiple muse personalities, I create stories by stretching the “normal” beyond the boundaries of the absurd.  The result is a worm-hole ride to the Far Side.  I love a good story — so, I wrote one.  Enjoy it with my wishes for a happy holiday season. 

Find Mr. Morningside here: Facebook


Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

GIVEAWAY!! Book Blast: Sally Smith O’Rourke


Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
written by Sally Smith O’Rourke
published by 

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, SmashwordsGoodreads


About the book: Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!

His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?

Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?







Praise for Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen


O’Rourke’s sequel to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen brings the reader a skillfully choreographed romance and smartly old-fashioned love story that is poignant and completely enthralling, while being laden with well-researched details to satisfy any Austen fan.
~Regina Jeffers


Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is a sweet Austen related romance with a time travel twist. I felt the author captured Jane Austen’s voice very well and I enjoyed reading her thoughts and reactions as the story flowed.

~Naida the Bookworm

Imaginative, fresh and endearing. Well done!
~Ann Channon (Jane Austen House Museum)


Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage

written by Sally Smith O’Rourke
published by 

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads


About the book: With its rough gray shingles and weathered slate roof, Sea Pines cottage seems, at first glance, past its prime. But inside this remote fisherman’s house, a driftwood fire crackles in the fireplace, brightly colored rugs cover the floor, and cozy cushions dot the worn, welcoming furniture. A young man named Robert has retreated after the war, planning to spend his days writing, tending to the local lighthouse, and nursing his injuries. For company, he adopts a young Golden Retriever puppy named Meteor.

Robert and Meteor spend months in quiet companionship, until the day Robert rescues a young woman from a storm at sea. Strong-willed and intelligent, Laura sees past Robert’s injuries to the proud, passionate man beneath, and–with some matchmaking help from Meteor–they begin a new life together at the cottage. But even Meteor’s tireless devotion can’t protect his cherished family from all of life’s unexpected challenges–hurdles that will teach each of them lessons of courage, faith, friendship, and the enduring love that can sustain us through life’s coldest seasons. 



Praise for Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage


This story is unashamedly a sweet love story, perfect for a Christmas read, and will bring a tear to the eye of even the most cynical of us!
~Anne

I just knew from the moment I read the forward that this was going to be a very sweet and touching story. And I was right!
~Sophia Rose


About the author: Sally Smith O’Rourke is a surgical scrub nurse at the City of Hope national cancer research hospital in Duarte, California and resides in the near-by Victorian village of Monrovia.

With her late husband, author Michael O’Rourke (aka F.M. O’Rourke) Smith O’Rourke owned and operated a medical advertising company where she used her diverse talents to produce and co-write teaching films and videos. Working not only with major medical and surgical manufacturing companies but also network television. These endeavors ultimately led to a collaboration on two feature films (direct to video) and three published novels.

The wife and husband writing team of Sally Smith and Michael O’Rourke, being long-time fans of Jane Austen, wrote The Man Who Loved Jane Austen released by Kensington Books in 2006. Kensington followed that very successful effort with The Maidenstone Lighthouse in 2007 and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage in 2009, both also collaborative projects by Smith and O’Rourke. Published after her partner and spouse’s untimely death in 2001, the publisher chose not to use the names Michael O’Rourke and Sally Smith (as the manuscripts were presented), releasing all three books under Sally Smith O’Rourke.

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is Sally Smith O’Rourke’s first solo novel.


Find Ms. Smith O’Rourke here: WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter 


And now for the Book Blast Giveaway! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal Cash! (Ends December 23, 2012)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent’s permission. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

           Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

GIVEAWAY!! Blog Tour: The Seven Steps to Closure by Donna Joy Usher with a guest post by the author plus an excerpt

The Seven Steps to Closure
written by Donna Joy Usher         
published by Lush Publications

find it here: Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads


Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by CLP Blog Tours(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)


Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book, especially the last half of it. 

For me, the first half of The Seven Steps to Closure was okay. I had a hard time connecting with Tara and really feeling for her. She just seemed kind of pathetic rather than sympathetic. 

However, I LOVED the second half of the book. The trip to India was fantastic. I got caught up in the romance…in the “will they or won’t they” aspect. I laughed out loud, especially during the plane scene. In fact, Tara  made me laugh quite often in this part of the book. 

As for the characters, Tara was heartbroken but on the mend. Jake is an asshole. Matt was my favorite…I loved him. Tara’s mother was a trip. The crazy pets she found were always worth a good chuckle. I also really enjoyed hearing about what was going on in Tara’s friends lives. Too often, the secondary characters stay in the background even though we want to know what is happening in their lives as well as the main character’s. In this book, we get some details and glimpses into what the friends are doing. I liked that a lot.

Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book to any chick lit fan.


Will I read it again: I will not. 


About the book – from Goodreads: 
Tara Babcock awakes the morning after her 30th birthday with a hangover that could kill an elephant – and the knowledge she is still no closer to achieving closure on her marriage breakup. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers that, not only is her ex-husband engaged to her cousin – Tash, the woman he left her for – but that Jake is also running for Lord Major of Sydney.

Desperate to leave the destructive relationship behind and with nothing to lose, she decides- with encouragement from her three best friends – to follow the dubious advice from a magazine article, Closure in Seven Easy Steps.

The Seven Steps to Closure follows Tara on her sometimes disastrous- always hilarious – path to achieve the seemingly impossible.


Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome -Donna Joy Usher, author of The Seven Steps to Closure, to the blog today. She has prepared the following guest post for all of you.

I still remember the day a girlfriend lent me The Diary of Bridget Jones. I had never read chick lit before – preferring instead fantasy, had never even heard of it, and here I was getting drawn so far into this book that I couldn’t stop till I had finished. I staggered into the work the next day on a few hours’ sleep and thus began my love affair with chick lit.

They say to write about what you know – and what I knew was heartache, betrayal and eventually real happiness, so many years later when I began to write it seemed only natural that my first novel would be chick lit. They also say that your first protagonist is likely to be a version of yourself. I have to admit that a lot of inspiration for Tara initially came from me and my experiences, but as my writing progressed she began to take on attributes unique to herself. Like any child, there are resemblances to the parent, but Tara is not a version of me.

I find inspiration for my stories all around me. People I meet inspire characters, dreams I have evoke emotions I weave into my tales. Long walks on the beach with an open mind normally will provide me with an answer to a question I may have had about my storyline. I also find talking about my book helps me add layers and depth, creating three dimensional characters and a tale people can relate to.

The Seven Steps to Closure began with a dream I had in 2007. I woke up the next morning and started writing. Although most of the original novel is gone – it was long and boring with no real storyline – the original dream still exists in the book as a flashback scene. When I realized how dreadful it was, I put it aside while I rethought the whole thing. Many years later I came back to Tara, and, feeling she had an important story to tell, I started again. I am sure that a lot of women will relate to Tara, and her trials and tribulations on her roller-coaster path to obtaining closure. I hope that the story will help and inspire other women whose hearts are breaking, but at the very least, it’s an entertaining read with plenty of laughs.

I know people have said that chick lit is dead, but I totally disagree. Perhaps it is no longer the fashionable genre, having been overtaken by horror, but the beauty of chick lit is that we bond with the characters on a level we can’t possibly with other genres because we are the characters in the chick lit novels. Our lives are a series of chick lit tales:  discovering love for the very first time, having our hearts broken, getting married and having children. We move through life, sometimes the protagonist, sometimes the best-friend, the mother, the horrible boss; we are constantly shifting from story to story as our lives touch those of the women around us. So how could chick lit ever die?

I think, instead, that chick lit is like a block of chocolate – quality is extremely important, you don’t mind spending a night alone with it, and the more we have, the more we want.

About the author: Born in Brisbane, I started my working life as a dentist. After 15 years of drilling and filling I discovered there was more to life, and put pen to paper. Now I drill by day and write by night.

When not doing either of those things I like spending time with my husband and two little dogs, fishing and camping, motorbike riding, traveling, drinking wine on my deck and eating chocolate. Last year I ran my first half marathon and took up paddle boarding.
I have lived in a myriad of places: Melbourne, Perth, England, Rockhampton, Roxby Downs, Sydney, Cairns and am now situated on the New South Wales Central Coast.


Find Ms. Usher here: webFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Ms. Usher is offering 3 ebook copies to 3 lucky winners! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Please enjoy the following excerpt from The Seven Steps to Closure.



So there we all were sitting at this table, me with my special shirt on, and I like a naive idiot am wondering what the stage show was going to be, when out comes the first stripper. I looked at Nat, who shook her head.
‘Sorry,’ she whispered. ‘It said stage show. I didn’t realise they meant strippers.’

I’ve never really been able to get into the male stripper thing. Maybe because they all look gay, prancing around like show ponies, groping their own packages and thrusting them into women’s faces. That night was no exception. The guys were whipping off bits of clothing left, right and centre, while I tried to have a conversation about the coming nuptials with Nat and Dinah. One of the strippers, trying to get my attention, got down on his hands and knees in front of me and started wiggling his red g-stringed buttocks in my face. Everybody else was screaming, but I could see some coarse, black hair poking out from under the G-string, so I was pretty grossed out.

Then Mr Hairy Bottom insisted on dragging me up on stage. I fought pretty hard, but the girls from the table behind us grabbed my legs and threw me bodily onto the platform. I landed on my hands and knees with my bum in the air and my mini skirt up around my hips, flashing my G-string at the crowd. The girls held me down and smacked me on the bare ass, (they were pretty drunk by this stage), while Mr Hairy Bottom waggled his package about an inch from my nose. It was totally humiliating.

He sat me on a stool and started swinging his hips to ‘Man I Feel Like A Woman’. Much to my disgust he held a towel in front of himself and whipped off his G-string. I, thankfully, could only see the blue and white striped towel, but he grabbed my hand and stuck it on his crotch. I could feel his sad, limp dick through the fabric of the towel, and to my dismay, the tip of my little finger missed the towel grazing his soft, waxed balls.

Now I want to get one thing straight. I am normally not that fond of penises. I mean obviously I liked Jake’s, but I have never, ever had an urge to see a strange man’s package, let alone feel one. I certainly didn’t appreciated being forced to touch his, and given a choice I would have taken putting my hand into a jar full of huntsmen spiders over this. As thoughts of herpes and syphilis flashed through my head, I leant forward and whispered in his ear, ‘If you don’t take my hand off your dick this minute you’ll be using a straw to pee through for the rest of your life.’

A look of horror crossed his face, and I smiled sweetly at him and raised one eyebrow. He let go of my hand pretty quickly, but not before I felt a slight hardening of his dick and I realised with a jolt that I must have turned him on. It put me right off my dinner.
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman

The Jelly Bean Crisis 
written by Jolene Stockman
published by CreateSpace

find it here: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

Why did I pick this book: I had participated in the book blast for this book hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and I was given the opportunity to review The Jelly Bean Crisis. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: I really enjoyed this book. I read it every free chance I had and finished rather quickly. I found that the story rang true and is an important lesson for people – especially high school and college students – to learn. That lesson is that you don’t have to have everything planned out from the very beginning, sometimes you have to find yourself and your path.

I really liked Poppy. She had courage and drive. She took a chance and in the end found an appropriate resolution to her “crisis”. Sometimes I wish that I had had a gap year or someone to help guide me to find a passion. You may not always find it in the beginning…but keep looking because it may come about eventually. 

I also found the different jobs/career paths that Poppy was trying out interesting. At first, I thought that everything was falling into place too neatly, too conveniently. I was pleasantly surprised that that wasn’t the case. That everything did not happen perfectly for Poppy, or her friends. That was refreshing and made this book feel real to me. 

Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book to adults, college students, and high school students.


Will I read it again: I will not.

About the book: A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B.

When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now.

Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love.

The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on.

About the author: Jolene Stockman is an award winning writer, speaker, and an expert for Girlfriend Magazine Australia. She is a Master of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and one of the youngest in the world to achieve the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. Jolene lives in New Zealand, and is the author of Total Blueprint for World Domination. The Jelly Bean Crisis is her debut fiction.

Find Ms. Stockman here: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook, Blog

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

GIVEAWAY!! Book Blast: The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman

The Jelly Bean Crisis 
written by Jolene Stockman
published by CreateSpace

find it here: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksGoodreads

About the book: A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B.

When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now.

Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love.

The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on.

Praise for The Jelly Bean Crisis

“The Jelly Bean Crisis is a heart warming and thought provoking story, especially if you’re in the process of figuring out your life!”  – Ajoop On Books!

“This book had me riveted. Completely riveted the entire time. The Jelly Bean Crisis was instant love for me.”  – Book Briefs.

“It’s a beautifully told story that you’ll be thinking about long after you finish reading.”  – A Pocket Full of Books.

If you’re looking for a smart contemporary YA read, then The Jelly Bean Crisis is for you!

***Book Blast Special***
Get your Kindle copy of The Jelly Bean Crisis for 99 cents!

About the author: Jolene Stockman is an award winning writer, speaker, and an expert for Girlfriend Magazine Australia. She is a Master of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and one of the youngest in the world to achieve the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. Jolene lives in New Zealand, and is the author of Total Blueprint for World Domination. The Jelly Bean Crisis is her debut fiction.

Find Ms. Stockman here: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook, Blog



And now for the Book Blast Giveaway!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash!! (Ends December 21, 2012)

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it when you follow Jolene and leave the others blank.

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        Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!